Brits climb new route in Cordillera Oriental, Peru

In June 2011 British climbers Dan Fitzgerald, James Wake and Matt Balmer visited the Cordillera Oriental range in Peru and successfully completed the first ascent of the south face of Huarancayo Sur (c5200m).

South face of Huarancayo Sur, 171 kb
South face of Huarancayo Sur
© Matt_b

Looking up the first pitch, 108 kb
Looking up the first pitch
© Matt_b
Matt Balmer explained:

"The Cordillera Oriental has been explored over the last decade by Tony Barton with various partners and it was reading about his new route with Tom Chamberlain on the south face of Huaguruncho (5723m) last year that sparked an interest in the area for me.

On the walk in to base camp, we spotted an interesting looking gully on the south face of Huarancayo Sur (c5200m). This mountain has previously only had one recorded ascent, this was in June 2006 when Tony Barton and Andy Houseman climbed the South East ridge to the top of the twin summited mountain."

With their objective decided, the team set off to attempt the line of the 5th of June. Matt Balmer commented:

"We scrambled to the foot of the small glacier below the cirque of the south face. We bivvied here for the night and the following morning set off to the gully. We were unsure of the conditions we would find, the true angle of the gully, or it's length. For 350m we climbed some of the finest icy gully climbing any of us have ever done any where in the world. The climbing was sustained and full of interest."

After a long day of climbing bad weather forced a bivvy near the top of the mountain:

"Sat on the snow, 50m below the summit of the mountain, we had not planned for a bivvy. It was now dark, we shared out some energy bars and our remaining water. The winter nights in Peru are long, 11 hours long. Using our adzes on our axes we dug into a windscoop and made a very cramped snow-hole for the three of us to crawl into. The following morning at first light, with clear skies and a beautiful sunrise we descended down the mountain and five and half hours later we returned to our bivvy below the south face. We packed our kit and made the long walk back to base camp."

South face of Huarancayo Sur (c5200m)
Boy Don't Cry - Scottish V,4 ***. 350m.

The following week the team attempted the unclimbed south face of Huaguruncho Chico (c5400m) but had to retreat about 150m from the summit in poor weather and dangerous snow conditions.

Enjoying fine climbing on the third pitch, 168 kb
Enjoying fine climbing on the third pitch
© Matt_b
A fine sunrise on the attempt on the south face of Huaguruncho Chico, 153 kb
A fine sunrise on the attempt on the south face of Huaguruncho Chico
© Matt_b


The team would like to thank the Mount Everest Foundation, the BMC , the Alpine Club, DMM , Rab and Nemo for their support.

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